Our View: Revolving door on Riverbank council

08/29/2013 5:21 PM

08/29/2013 9:08 PM

It’s happened so often that it’s hardly news anymore – there’s another vacancy on the Riverbank City Council.

Councilwoman Dotty Nygard resigned this week, less than three months after the council was finally at its full complement of five members from its last vacancy. The remaining four members will meet Sept. 9 to decide whether to appoint a replacement or hold another special election. It just had one in June.

There’s an election coming up Nov. 5, but the timing isn’t right to use it to fill this spot. As we did last winter, after Richard O’Brien was elected mayor and vacated his council seat, we urge the council to use the appointment process. Candidates who have run in the last two elections, in fall 2012 and in June, should be encouraged to apply. The person chosen will serve only through the remaining year of Nygard’s term and then would have to stand for election.

There are three reasons why an appointment makes sense: First, it will avoid another $50,000 bill for a special election. Second, as noted, the person chosen will only serve for about a year. And third, the appointment can be achieved more quickly, putting the council back at full strength as it deals with ongoing budget issues and other important matters.

Turnover hasn’t been the only challenge for the Riverbank council, of course. It also was shorthanded for months because Jesse James White missed so many meetings during the latter half of his dismal term in office.

Nygard contributed significantly to Riverbank during her years there. That said, we’re disappointed that she could not complete her four-year term, something we are seeing happen more frequently among local elected officials.

Before running for office, citizens should think seriously about whether they can serve out their full terms. We recognize that families move more often than they used to and people seem to change jobs more often, but serving in elected office should be treated as an important commitment not easily broken.

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